Here's Why You Should Stop Shaving Under Your Arms

Shaving body hair is an extremely personal choice. Throughout history, hairlessness has been considered a sign of cleanliness, purity, and fertility, and while it's been documented that both men and women have been removing body hair since the Stone Age, it didn't become a social norm until the 20th century, according to CNN

These days, however, shaving is typically viewed as an aesthetic choice — but one that many still feel pressured into by society. Women especially are encouraged to remove their underarm hair. In fact, it's still considered so taboo that the majority of shaving commercials targeted toward women don't even show body hair — instead, the model in the ad is seen sliding a razor across already hairless skin (via HuffPost). 

Despite any social norms that still exist, it's entirely up to the individual to decide whether to not they want to keep their body hair. But a factor that's often overlooked are the many health benefits to choosing not to shave. Sure, it's much more convenient to not have to worry about pesky underarm hair, but it also may benefit you in other, more significant ways.

The many health benefits of not shaving under your arms

As dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, MD pointed out to Well + Good, body hair serves an evolutionary purpose: "Hair prevents skin from irritation when it rubs against itself, protecting from chaffing in many areas of our body, especially in the underarm area." While chafing under the arms can often occur during activities like running or walking, underarm hair can reduce this, protecting the skin from things like rashes and ingrown hairs, which can be extremely uncomfortable and hard to get rid of.

This lack of irritation is one of the primary benefits of not shaving your underarms. Not only will you be able to avoid annoyances like razor burn, but you'll decrease your risk of certain infections. The micro-tears caused by shaving leave you susceptible to infections like streptococcus, staphylococcus aureus, and MRSA, per Cosmopolitan.

Your love life might also benefit from not shaving your underarms. A 2013 study claimed that one of body hair's major functions is to release pheromones, a.k.a. our natural scents that play a role in our attractions to others. The study also showed that males secrete a pheromone called androstadienone from their underarm sweat, which increases sexual desire. The pheromones emitted by women have yet to be studied in depth, but as Byrdie points out, that doesn't mean women's pheromones behave differently.

Ultimately, the decision to shave your underarms is yours alone — but the benefits of having body hair are certainly worth taking into consideration.